Last Thursday, boaters and locals helped rescue a stranded orca whale on Prince of Wales Island in Alaska. Boaters found the 20-foot-long mammal stuck in a 4-foot-long rock crevice on the rocky shore. The boaters first alerted the U.S. coastguard before taking any action.
Images making rounds on social media show good samaritans with buckets pouring water over the whale to prevent dehydration. Although the coastguard took about 6 hours to arrive at the scene, boaters and locals kept the whale safe from predator birds and helped it remain hydrated.
Related: Cruise ships, shipping vessels can now earn a “Whale-Safe” label
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officials arrived 6 hours after the distress call, but at this time the whale was already safe. The water levels had risen considerably, helping the whale swim away. NOAA officials say that the whale slowly moved into the water once the sea levels rose.
“It moved a bit slowly at first, and meandered around a little before swimming away,” NOAA spokesperson Julie Fair said in a statement.
The recent beaching is not the first incident to occur on Prince of Wales island. More than five whales have been stranded on the island’s shores in the past 20 years. According to researcher Jared Towers of Canada’s department of fisheries and oceans, most of the whales that get stranded on the beach are saved.
“They’ve all rejoined their families after stranding, and they’ve all gone on to survive and live normal, healthy lives,” said Towers. “There’s a good chance it’s met up with them now, and it’s just carrying on a normal life after spending some time out of the water. I don’t think anyone knows exactly when this whale stranded, or what the circumstances were, but I would make a wager that there was harbor seal hunting as the motivating factor.”
Whale beaching usually occurs when whales get stranded on the shores during their hunting expeditions. When chasing after sea lions and seals, whales can get stuck on the shores if they make poor calculations. In most cases, they need the help of humans to get back to the water, or they may die.
The recent beaching came on the heels of an 8.2 magnitude earthquake off the Alaskan coast which triggered a tsunami. However, experts say that the recent beaching was not caused by the tsunami.
Via The Guardian
Lead image via Pexels